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CACHE (HIDDEN), 2005
Cast: Daniel Auteuil, Juliette Binoche, Maurice Bénichou, Annie Girardot, Bernard Le Coq, Walid Afkir, Lester Makedonsky, Daniel Duval
Georges is a talk show host who leads a life of culture, dinner parties with his wife and young son. When he receives strange videos in the post which show his home the family begin on a path of suspicion, fear and Georges in particular has to delve into his past and deal with events so that their lives can be resumed.
By winning the Palm D’or at Cannes this year with The White Ribbon, director Michael Haneke has become the darling of European and world cinema, but for some time now a cult following will tell you that he is a luminary director in cinema at the moment. His films tend to contend with themes that are uncomfortably menacing, building tension that has and has not boiled over in his past works. Funny Games was his piece to gain real notoriety, which he then furthered by creating a shot for shot remake, which while doing little artistically, did bring him to wider tension.
That tale was one of senseless violence, which through its senselessness was a shocking and difficult film to get through, but no less brilliant. In Cache, Haneke manages to crank the tension, intrigue and discomfort up to eleven by actually reigning things in. Cache starts out by setting up Georges Laurent as a left-wing, liberal, book review TV show host whose life outside of that work is about hosting dinner parties with his wife Anna and ferrying young son to swimming team practice. While their life has a certain idyllic quality their world is penetrated when a video tape showing the outside of their house is left on their doorstep.
With is career on TV, the whole thing starts being treated without worry by both the family and the police. Only when further videos slowly reveal more personal details about Georges he is transported back to his childhood, growing up with an adopted, Moroccan-immigrant brother whom he suspects is the culprit stalking them.
Whether or not this is the case and how Georges investigates this whole saga is a mere necessity as what the episode reveals is the broken elements in Georges life. He and his wife barely speak on an intimate level, she is on the verge of an affair and their son is monosyllabic and seeks to spend more time at friends than at home.
That said, the film as a whole is so effective in creating the unseen menace, not only with what’s happening to them but within them also, that the plot and the undertones of what is really going on with these characters makes for a terrific thriller. Clearly with his success at Cannes, Haneke is only getting better with time but for me this film really was something else. I’ve seen little else like it. There’s another French film, Tell No One (2006) which came out a year after Cache, that is a top notch thriller but of the high octane tempo that we are more used to in the English language. What Cache does is create such a sense of ‘what’s not being said’ that you don’t even know what you’re being scared of which raises the tension ten-fold. The action never raises manic proportions and the is played with such realism, even the resolution is challenging and contains a realism that may or may not frustrate, but you will struggle to find a more original or terrifying thriller.
Review by Stefan Leverton 30/03/10